“For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son….” [John 3:16] There is no more profound truth than this, and no greater love – no better reason for giving thanks.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day that we set apart in order to be mindful of all the goodness in our lives and to be truly grateful for the gifts that we have been given. It is right and just for us to give thanks to God for Creation, for life itself, for our lives, and for His Infinite Love. Believers, of course, should be mindful and grateful every day. I will be going to Mass tomorrow even though it’s not Sunday, even though it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation, because I deeply desire to participate in the Eucharistic liturgy on the day that is called Thanksgiving, even by nonbelievers. After all, Eucharist means thanksgiving.
In the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass, the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s Incarnation, life, Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension – is celebrated through Scripture and Sacrament. In the Eucharistic prayer, the outpouring of God’s love through Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross is made present again in an “unbloody manner” [Council of Trent]. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we, the Church, pierce the temporal veil through the Eucharistic liturgy and step into sacred timelessness – uniting ourselves with Christ on the Cross in the offering of ourselves to God. We give ourselves in true love, in thankful praise and solemn promise to God.
In lifting “our hearts up to the Lord”, we receive the fullness of Christ who is lifted up, his heart broken open so that he may give himself to us. The bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated and changed into Christ’s Body and Blood – and we, too, are changed as we enter into his Holy Sacrifice. And we make his sacrifice our own by living out this love, this surrender to God’s will, this gift of self to others, in our own lives.
I hope that I remember, not only tomorrow, but every day of the year, that we most beautifully and truly give thanks by giving – ”love one another as I love you.” [John 15:12]